An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin T.D, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly T.D, and Minister of State for the Department of Health, with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and the National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan T.D., have today (Thursday October 29th) launched the “Keep Well” campaign which aims to support people and communities to mind their physical and mental health over the coming months.
The Government Plan for Living with COVID-19: Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021 highlights the important role that individual and community resilience will play in contributing to our ongoing response to COVID-19.
Today’s launch is a call to action to everyone across our society. It is an invitation to individuals, communities, voluntary groups, sporting organisations, those involved in creativity and the arts, local heritage and history, businesses, as well as local and national government to find ways to support everyone to discover new activities and routines that will do us good.
The “Keep Well” campaign is aimed at showing people of all ages how we can mind our own physical and mental health and wellbeing by adding healthy and helpful habits to our daily and weekly routines. It will provide guidelines, information, and tips on things that will help us keep well through the coming months. All of this will be available on gov.ie/healthyireland
Today’s launch includes the allocation of funding from Sláintecare to support a number of initiatives through the Healthy Ireland Fund that will be rolled out over the coming months. Information about local resources and initiatives will also be available through Ireland’s Local Authorities.
This launch builds on the “In This Together” campaign which happened earlier in the year. The “Keep Well” campaign is focussed on five main themes:
- Keeping active – keeping active and being outdoors, even during the winter, is important to help physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Sport Ireland is leading a series of initiatives that will support people to stay active in their own local areas throughout the winter. In addition, sporting organisations and clubs are invited to develop ways to support local communities.
- Staying connected – staying connected with people, addressing isolation, supporting volunteerism and initiatives that support person-to-person connection is important to our wellbeing.
Building on the Community Call response earlier in the year, Local Authorities are being supported to provide a local community helpline and befriending service. Working with partner organisations, including An Garda Síochána, NGOs and Volunteer Ireland, there will be a particular emphasis on identifying and supporting those most at risk of isolation.
- Switching off and being creative – switching off and being creative or learning something new, getting back to nature and finding ways to relax can help our general wellbeing.
The Local Authorities and libraries, with advice from the Creative Ireland Programme, and working with partners at national and local level, will provide a range of initiatives to support individual and community creativity in the arts, crafting, culture and heritage.
- Eating well – by nourishing our bodies and minds, we can develop a better connection between the food we eat and how we feel and positively impact our physical and mental wellbeing.
Bord Bia will provide information and resources to support healthy eating this winter. Safefood will implement the next phase of their “START” campaign, focussing on making the most of family time and adding healthy habits. In addition, the network of libraries around the country will facilitate a major initiative with Grow It Yourself in early 2021, to support more people to grow their own food – in whatever small way they can – helping to forge greater connections between growing food and eating well and develop community networks.
- Minding your mood – equipping people with information on where to go if they need support. This will also be linked with the local community helpline to ensure that people can access the support they need.
The HSE will launch a series of “Minding Your Wellbeing” resources in the coming days. In addition, the Children and Young Peoples’ Services Committees (CYPSC) around the country are being supported to provide enhanced services to children, young people and families over the coming months.
Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach said:
“The adjustment required of us all in the months since this pandemic came into our lives has been difficult for everyone but I am proud of the way we have adapted and come together to protect ourselves and others in the face of the threat posed by COVID-19. The necessary restrictions imposed to protect life, health and our healthcare services have had to continue for longer than many of us may have hoped at the outset and I understand that many of us are now experiencing fatigue. The aim of this new campaign is to equip people with ideas and strategies to help us through the winter. This will help strengthen communities and individuals and restore hope that brighter days are coming”.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said:
“Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have been faced with many worries and stresses, and all of these have taken their toll. We are learning to live with COVID-19, but still many of us have concerns regarding our own health and wellbeing and that of our loved ones during this time. At the heart of the “Keep Well” campaign is helping people – individuals and communities – to make a plan to do things that are good for them over the coming months. People will be encouraged to plan to do something that is good for us each day or week and will be supported with information and resources to help them to do so. While we know it will be a difficult winter, the Keep Well campaign will help us to care for our health and wellbeing through the coming months. There is something for everything in the wide-ranging campaign and I would encourage every one of us to engage with it.”
Minister for Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, said:
“The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media is delighted to support and contribute to the ‘Keep Well’ campaign across a number of pillars. In particular, the need for everyone to get active and stay active has never been more important and is essential for our physical and mental wellbeing. Sport and physical activity has shown itself to be resilient throughout the difficult months since March, with research showing more people taking the opportunity to get active than ever before. Sport Ireland will lead the physical activity pillar of the campaign and, regardless of what level of restriction is in place, will be providing innovative and engaging supports and guidance for people to be active both at home and in the outdoors. Our message to everyone is that no matter what your age or circumstances there is an activity for you to enjoy.
The Creative Ireland Programme at local level has a range of cultural and creative activities for people to enjoy and stay connected. Given my own background, I’m particularly proud of COVID Care concerts. Some of most talented and experienced musicians and singers are travelling to perform outside nursing homes; 182 performances already. This will continue during the winter months and into 2021.”
Minister for Social Protection; and Community & Rural Development & the Islands, Heather Humphreys commented:
“Local volunteers and community groups are at the heart of the Community Call. The new “Staying Connected” initiative will tap into local community spirit, encouraging neighbours to look out for each other and mobilising local volunteers to reach out to those who are lonely and isolated. My Department will be supporting local community and voluntary groups in this important work, ensuring everyone in our communities can keep well during this challenging time.”
Minister of State for the Department of Health, with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and the National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan said:
“I am delighted to support the launch of the “Keep Well” campaign today. As we prepare to face the difficult winter ahead, it is now more important than ever to ensure that we eat healthily, be as active as possible, and mind our mental wellbeing. One of the key messages of Healthy Ireland is that health is everybody’s business. One of the strengths of Healthy Ireland is the partnership which we have built with all of our stakeholders. That partnership is now in a great position to deliver this campaign and in the coming months, all of these partners will be delivering local programmes, initiatives and amenities. We will also see a programme of “citizen empowerment” wellbeing activities, supporting healthy living initiatives including community food, creativity, managing chronic diseases and positive ageing. I want to encourage everyone to take part in these activities to the fullest extent possible, so that both individually and together, we, as a nation, can face this challenge.”
Executive Director of Sláintecare, Laura Magahy commented:
“I am delighted that Sláintecare is funding this important “Keep Well” campaign to support everyone to make a personal plan that will help them get through the coming weeks and months. Sláintecare is the vision to reform Ireland’s health and social care services. It is about creating a health and social care service that meets the needs of our population, attracts and retains the best healthcare professionals and offers the right care, in the right place, at the right time. Sláintecare is also about promoting the health of our population to prevent illness, a pillar that is delivered by Healthy Ireland as it works to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone living in Ireland. This campaign will put local people at the centre of solutions for their own communities and, through the collective efforts of the campaign partners and supporters, will help meet the Sláintecare objective of preventing ill-health and keeping people well.”
On behalf of the local authority sector, Philomena Poole, Chief Executive of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said:
“Local authorities have planned a range of programmes and initiatives to help everyone in the community to keep well and active in these trying times. Whether through creativity, arts, sports programmes, reading, heritage, or outdoor amenities, your council aims to have something to interest everyone. We will also be working very closely with our local communities and partner agencies to deepen and expand the Community Call helpline service, check in with people, and make sure that anybody who needs help or support during Covid-19 can easily access it. Local authorities are delighted to be at the forefront of the ‘Keep Well’ campaign and look forward to using our local reach to make sure everyone in every county can do just that.”